1. Crash Winners
Here’s a new entry for the lists of winners and losers that get published this time of year: The ten lawyers, bankers, consultants or accountants who reaped the most from the financial disaster of the last three years.
The poster-boy would likely be Irving Picard, a partner at the Cleveland-based international law firm of Baker & Hostetler. Picard is the court-appointed trustee responsible for recovering money for Bernie Madoff’s victims. From the sketchy clips I’ve seen, it appears that Picard and his firm have already received more than $200 million in fees for their work from the court overseeing the cases. Is that true?
Then there are the lawyers involved in bringing and defending all those multi-hundred million-dollar and billion-dollar claims against the banks that packaged and re-sold troubled mortgages and other securities. Or the accountants, lawyers and bankers sorting out the assets and liabilities in the wake of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and and other implosions.
A really good story would check property records and other sources to pinpoint changes in life style enjoyed by these winners. Did someone buy a fabulous New York co-op, or a house in the south of France? Or fund a new charter school? The point isn’t to villainize these masters of disaster; many people – such as whoever invented Lipitor or other statins to help people avoid heart disease, or the trial lawyers responsible for winning recoveries for victims of corporate environmental pillage or other misconduct – deserve what they get for hard, honest, effective work that stems from others’ misfortune. But at a time when income inequality is the topic of the day, the details here would make great reading and raise all the right questions.
2. The Litigators’ World Series
Which reminds me: Every time I read Alison Frankel’s fabulous “On The Case” Reuters blog about pending litigation, I wonder when someone is going to do the ultimate article about the ins and outs and the who’s who of the world series of litigation inaugurated last September with the filing of a suit against 17 – yes, 17 – big banks and other financial institutions (such as GE Capital) by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.